Friday, May 2, 2014

Rescue Me

“On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.” - Douglas Adams

I have decided that being a human is way too much work. This isn’t about the work we need to do like scrubbing toilets and making sure our socks are put away in matching pairs. It’s about all that stuff we pile onto our agendas because we think we have to. We think we have to because, deep down, we are all control freaks.

Our penchant for control freakage is pervasive and all-encompassing. We run ourselves ragged trying to accomplish this, buy that, make sure someone else doesn’t beat us to the other thing. We even expect our Superior Beings to micromanage everything. I won’t get into whether or not Superior Beings exist.1 That’s not the point here.  The point is, there are people out there who think God has nothing better to do than send tornadoes into Kansas trailer parks because gay people want to get married.  I mean, really?  I have at least one friend who prays for a good parking space on a regular basis, and fess up -- I know some of you have made repeated, impassioned entreaties to at least one deity regarding your lottery tickets.

Now, I understand culture, tradition, and heritage -- all those things that make us who we are as a species. But think about it. Some of this stuff is really silly.

Case in point: I was raised by Old Southern Women. This means I was brought up within a culture of well-defined and highly-detailed expectations.  Little Southern Girls are expected to know, by our fifth birthday, that one never ever wears white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day, and we must be able to make cotillion-worthy chicken salad by the age of twelve.2 

Most of us had the pattern for our wedding flatware chosen for us while we were still in the womb.  My mother had so wanted me to be a Gorham Chantilly with long, delicate fingers and polished nails worthy of her gilt-edged, pink porcelain teacups -- and here I am, a confirmed Towle Wickford with stoneware from Sears and big square farm girl hands.

Needless to say, the girly-girl micromanagement plan backfired. All it did was drive me into the garage with my dad, the duct tape, and the power tools. Despite my female relatives’ best efforts, I refused to be rescued from my tomboy tendencies.  While I grew up civilized enough to know the difference between a shrimp fork and an oyster fork, I have used neither since my grandmother passed on in 1989.  I fully expect her to come back from the afterlife someday and smack me upside the head for eating last month’s Easter dinner off a paper plate with a spork.

Lately the “R” word has somehow become a big deal. Everybody and their dog’s dead grandmother has been, or will need to be, rescued from something or other. It somehow makes us feel noble if we can say we’ve “rescued” something. I can even lay claim to that word myself, having adopted a mare from a rescue ranch and a dog from an animal shelter.

Gabby, my mare, really is “a rescue.” She was bought at auction with two other emaciated,  pregnant mares who were almost certainly destined for slaughter. Kiki the Bordeeler3 was caught as a stray on the ditch bank and taken to the local Humane Society. She comes by her “R” word legitimately also.

Nobody asks me about those two.  However, anytime I take our 100-pound greyhound out in public, the first thing to leave people’s lips is not “wow, he’s gorgeous,” (he is) or “what’s his name,” (Hoover) but “is he a rescue?” (No.)  When I say, “No, he’s just adopted. He didn’t need to be rescued,” the smiles grow wooden and the voices turn sour.
What’s up with that? Hoovie was the product of an accidental breeding, and as such, never raced. Even if he had, he still wouldn’t have needed “rescuing.” He was loved as a puppy, just as his mother was loved and respected as the elite athlete she was, even after she became pregnant with him and his four sisters. Once the litter was born, they were not abused, thrown away, or put to sleep -- they were signed over to an adoption group through which they all would find good homes.4  Hoovie has been in our home for over eleven years now. Is it a bad thing that he wasn’t “rescued?” What’s wrong with being loved your whole life?

Micromanagement. “Rescue” is just another word we use to feel good about controlling our environment. If we can point to a real or imagined “bad situation,” sticking our grubby little fingers into all the world’s pies seems more justified.

Case in point:  A rabbit (in an uncontrollable fit of micromanagement, I named her “Lucy”) decided to have five babies in the middle of our horse corral. Dali, the pony occupying said corral, belongs to one of my customers. Now, if I were a rabbit and had to choose a roommate, quiet, elderly Dali would be the perfect choice. But I am not a pony or a rabbit. I am a human being, and as such, I immediately went into Control Freak Mode.
Mama Lucy

Rabbit!  In with the pony! In the corral! With babies! In a burrow!  I immediately began to picture horrible scenarios in which the pony stepped on and smooshed the baby rabbits, or the rabbits spooked the pony into hurting herself.  How was I going to get those babies out of there? Should I call the rabbit rescue people and have someone come and get them all?  Before I could formulate my Brilliant Human Hero Rescue Plan, Lucy had nursed her quintuplets and covered the burrow back up, leaving not a trace.  She hopped away. Dali sniffed at the spot where Lucy had been, and calmly went back to her breakfast.

The message couldn’t have been any clearer if Grandma Louise had come back from the afterlife and smacked me upside the head with a spork.  This wasn’t a Heroic Rescue Opportunity.  This was the settled order of nature. It’s not my job to put bunnies in a cage so they don’t get smooshed. They’re not “poor little things,”  they’re normal baby rabbits, and they already have a mom. She didn’t “abandon” them -- she would be back to nurse them twice a day, as rabbits instinctively know to do.5  Odd as it may look to me, she put them in Dali’s pen for a reason. The reason is NOMDC6, and I need to MMOB.

Dali the pony and Lucy the rabbit are coexisting peacefully. Every morning between  6 and 7 AM, the (growing!) quintuplets get their breakfast, and Lucy covers them back up again. No one has been spooked or smooshed.  All is right in that quiet little corner of the world.


If you feel the need to be a hero, save something that really needs saving. Adopt an animal from the pound. Give those extra cans of gooseberries to a food bank. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

As for all that other stuff you’ve been stressing about? The universe has it under control, y’all. Really. Butt out. Watch and learn.

If anyone needs to be rescued, it’s us. We need to be rescued from ourselves. We need to spend less time worrying, manipulating our surroundings, and squeezing the life out of everything we touch in the process. We need to spend more of it mucking about in the water, having a good time.

1 I'll leave that to Douglas Adams, who said, "'I refuse to prove that I exist,' says God, 'for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.' 'But,' says Man, 'The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so, therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.' 'Oh dear,' says God, 'I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic. 'Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed at the next zebra crossing."

2 With grapes. Those big purple ones with the seeds. I never understood the grapes.  Truth be told, I don't understand chicken salad. I despise it, with or without grapes. Always have, always will. Sorry, Grandma.

3 As I believe I have stated before, half Border Collie, half Blue Heeler, all trouble.

4 They also came into my life and wrecked everything that was smaller than a car. See previous blog post entitled "Land Shark Revelations."

5 I stopped freaking out for a minute, and actually looked this up. Wonderful comforting thing, the internet.

6 None Of My Damn Concern.  A phrase I learned from my dad, amid the duct tape and power tools.